F-35A from Tamiya in quarter scale was released in early 2023. It was immediate success and an engineering marvel all together. Nothing surprising, giving the fact that the Japanese manufacturer are arguably the best model maker on the planet. Lightning II from them was only logical relase, considering the fact, that J.A.S.D.F. are already flying the A model of the 5th generation jet fighter. Alongside with that, it was pretty certain, that in a manner of time, Tamiya will put out F-35B STOVL jet, simply because Japan is among the few countries that will get this Harrier successor in their armed forces. No chance for them to miss that opportunity.
The question that was standing was – are Tamiya going to make their own tooling, or they are about to re-pack Italeri’s recently new F-35B Lightning II in 1/48? There is abundant history of collaboration between the two manufacturers, although Italeri are not on par with Tamiya in terms of quality, nor engineering. Thanks to that history, re-packing Italeri stood as an option.
As of end of September 2023, Tamiya announced their newest addition to 48th scale line – an F-35B Lightning II. It figures. And here’s what they have to add to that:
- The model can be displayed in 3 positions. Parked, Short Take off and Vertical Landing AKA Hovering.
- The kit can be displayed in Stealth, Air-To-Air and Beast modes. Latter one with all its ordnance beneath its wings.
- Newly molded fuselage weapons bays.
- Lift fan can be depicted in various ways.
- Up/Down leading edge, trailing edge flaperons and stabilizers.
- Landing gear struts can be picked between light or heavy load imposed on them.
- Stand for in flight modes included.
- Open and closed canopy are optionable.
- Canopy masks included.
- Extended or Retracted ladder.
- 7 marking options.
- Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground weapons included.
From the abovementioned, it is clear that this won’t be Italeri tooling. One of the things missing in the Italian kit are the options to properly display the aircraft in slow/still flight modes, where the flaperons are in down position. Even though you can eventually modify Italeri’s kit to look like it, it is a whole different thing to have that option straight from the box. And with the Japanese brilliance behind the execution. In Tamiya’s factory they were perfectly aware of that, so they obviously took the matter in their own hands.
The RAM Panels included in Tamiya’s F-35A model were also a good add-on. Even though as decals, they eased the process of the build. We expect that Japanese model maker will try and fill that gap with another such decal sheet added to this F-35B release. But nevertheless, there will probably be better options for the RAM coating. For the Canopy, Wheels and EOTS too.
Tamiya have proved countless times, that there are geniuses working in that company. Their P-38, Phantom II and actually any of their latest new toolings don’t seize to amaze modelers, while on them in the working process. The latter is straight-forward, with pleasant surprises along the way. It doesn’t take unnecessary time, the fit is great and the plastic is A-grade. It does not get any better than that!
Based on those facts, our conclusion is that the very best F-35B on the market in any scale is about to pop-up rather soon. Maybe even as early as Telford 2023 in UK, but more reasonably – early 2024 at one of the modeling events in Japan. Promised date is sometime late November, but that is unconfirmed. So don’t quote us on that statement.
There is nothing more to be said. This Tamiya release will be a mandatory purchase for all jet fans, all JASDF afficionados and we can predict with a high degree of certainty, that it will be great for a starter kit as well. All thanks to the way Tamiya make their kits. They have no actual competitors in what they really offer in their sets. And that is one-of-a-kind, brilliant engineering, that can be found only in Japan.